Beltran's advice pays off for Francoeur

Beltran's advice pays off for Francoeur

ATLANTA -- For Jeff Francoeur, something simple led to something significant.

On the advice of Carlos Beltran, Francoeur and hitting coach Howard Johnson spent the pregame hours Tuesday working on introducing a waggle into Francoeur's routine, just before he lifts his bat above his shoulder.

The aim was to limit the time that Francoeur stood stock still in the batter's box, thus keeping tension from creeping into his hands.

The immediate result was a game-winning homer.

"Different guys have to do different things to relax in the box," Johnson said. "You're talking about Major League hitters. The game for them is a pressure game, and the more you can try to help them alleviate that during the at-bat, the better they're going to be because they've got ability. They're big league hitters."

Making adjustments in his sixth big league season has perhaps been more difficult for Francoeur than for others, simply because he enjoyed so much success early in his career. During his first few seasons in Atlanta, Francoeur had little need to tinker with his swing. He was thriving.

Now, though, Francoeur has endured a frustrating season, prompting Johnson, Beltran and countless others to offer their advice.

Such a simple fix may not permanently cure Francoeur of his woes -- but it certainly can help.

"He tries so hard to get things done that he ends up getting himself out a lot, over-swinging or trying to overdo it," Johnson said. "Whenever you get a guy relaxing in the box, I don't care who you are. It's always good."